The reporter and editor must be satisfied that the source has a sound factual basis for his or her assertions. Some sources quoted anonymously might tend to exaggerate or overreach precisely because they will not be named.
We should identify sources as completely as possible, consistent with the promise of anonymity. In particular, a source's point of view and potential biases should be disclosed as fully as possible. For instance, "an advisor to Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee" is preferable to "a congressional source."
When it is practical, a reporter should consult an editor before entering into an agreement to protect a source's anonymity. In some cases, an editor may insist on knowing the source's identity in order to evaluate the reliability of the information provided.
In rare instances, sources may insist that The Times and the reporter resist subpoenas and judicial orders, if necessary, to protect their anonymity. Reporters should consult a masthead editor before entering into any such agreement.
Even in the absence of such an agreement, the possibility exists that a prosecutor, grand jury or judge will demand to know a source's identity, forcing the reporter to choose between unmasking the source and going to jail for contempt of court. Such situations are rare, and they should not deter us from investigating sensitive or contentious matters.
Reporters should be extremely circumspect about how and where they store information that might identify an anonymous source. Many electronic records, including e-mail, can be subpoenaed from and retrieved by non-newsroom employees.
Promises to a source must be kept except under the most extraordinary circumstances. If a source, acting in bad faith, were to succeed in using The Times to spread misinformation, we would consider our promise of anonymity no longer binding. That said, we do not "burn" sources.
When it is appropriate, reporters should identify the way in which the information was collected -- by means of a news release, e-mail, a social media post or a user comment, for instance.
The Times does not make deals in exchange for access. When negotiating with Hollywood publicists, for instance, we do not make promises regarding publication, placement or angle of approach. That such deals are commonplace among entertainment media does not make them acceptable at The Times.
It is permissible to discuss, in general terms, the scope and direction of the coverage we have in mind. It should be clear, however, that the ultimate placement and angle are for reporters and editors to decide.
This practice does not prohibit us from agreeing to delay publication of information provided under embargo.
The Times does not pay sources for information.
We live and work in a media environment suffused with hyperbole. It is The Times' intention to stand distinctly apart from that world and speak straightforwardly to readers.
Fabrication of any type is unacceptable. We do not create composite characters. We do not use pseudonyms. We do not exaggerate sourcing (a single source is a "source," not "sources"). We do not manufacture, embroider or distort quotes, whether in print or in the video and audio clips posted on our website.
Superlatives such as "biggest," "worst" and "most" should be employed only when the writer has proof. It is the responsibility of assigning editors and copy editors to challenge all questionable claims. The burden of proof rests with the writer; it is not the desk's responsibility to prove the writer wrong.
It is unacceptable to hedge an unverified or unverifiable assertion with words such as "arguably" or "perhaps." Our job is to report what is true, not what might be.
Datelines are statements of fact and are intended to show where a story or other work was principally reported. Visiting an area fleetingly solely to justify a dateline is not acceptable.